Big Ben, meet Little Ben.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his wife, Ashley, welcomed a baby boy into the world Wednesday night, naming their firstborn Benjamin Jr.
In an announcement on his website Thursday, Roethlisberger said the boy was born at 10:06 p.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce. The newborn measured 191/2 inches, a little less than twice the length of a regulation football.
"We would like to let everyone know that last night at 10:06 p.m. Ashley and I welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby boy into this world," the announcement on his website said. "Both mom and baby are doing well."
"We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, it really means a lot to us. God is so good!"
Roethlisberger, who remains out of the lineup while he recuperates from shoulder and rib injuries, appeared at practice Thursday morning at the team's South Side facility, where he beamed with joy, offensive tackle Willie Colon said.
"He came in with that big ol' proud papa chest, that big ol' smile. I think for him, with everything that he's been through, to have a son and you can tell he's extremely excited about it," he said. "It's kind of like a weight off his shoulders -- you can tell he's been anticipating it. I'm happy for him."
But Roethlisberger, who was not made available for comment, and his wife's family remained mum about the news. A man who answered the phone at the Harlan residence in New Castle politely declined inquiries.
Roethlisberger, 30, married Ashley Harlan, a physician's assistant from New Castle in July 2011. He announced that she was pregnant in June with the baby being due in the thick of football season. In September, he declared emphatically that the birth of his son would take priority over a football game.
"I'm not missing the birth of my child," Roethlisberger said. "There's no chance. I know some fans probably don't want to hear that, but there's no chance."
But Baby Ben obliged and was born mid-week while his father remains sidelined indefinitely after his collision with Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston Nov. 11. The injury, which kept him from sleep and forced him to snooze sitting up, may have given him a taste of fatherhood, said safety Troy Polamalu, a father of two.
"Obviously he's injured and he said it was tough sleeping," Polamalu said, "and I said, 'You'll never sleep again when you have children ... even when you're eyes are closed and you're out for 8 hours, you're never really sleeping."
Inside the locker room, he may find a wealth of fatherly advice and some fellow novices. Offensive tackle Max Starks became a father three weeks ago and counseled him to "just try and sleep when you can."
"It's an amazing feeling," he said. "Out of all of the accomplishments that you have, not only professionally and as a man, that's the crowning achievement, actually being a father, because that's a lifetime of work that you're dedicated to and you don't mind doing it because it's somebody that you love unconditionally."
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who is sometimes often called Coach Dad, advised him to savor the moment.
"It's the greatest thing in the world, absolutely, and he and his wife will discover that. Don't miss a minute of it, because it goes pretty fast."
Two months ago, as his wife entered her third trimester, Roethlisberger reflected on how fatherhood might change him.
"It's exciting and it is a little bit scary, too. It is," he said. "Before long, you're going to have this little life that you're taking care of. But I've heard nothing but great things from people [about] just how it will change your life. I'm just so excited for that challenge."Steelers - mobilehome
Moriah Balingit: email@example.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter: @MoriahBee. First Published November 22, 2012 4:30 PM